University of Bath vice-chancellor narrowly survives no-confidence vote

23 November 2017

Staff disappointed that vice-chancellor survives a vote of no-confidence at senate meeting after staff unanimously call for her to go

UCU said that while the vice-chancellor may have survived the vote at the university's senate by 19 votes to 16, she was "living in a different reality if she thought she had the support of her staff". 

Dame Glynis Breakwell, the highest paid vice-chancellor in the country had faced calls to resign from numerous quarters outside the university in recent months, but this week saw her own staff also call for her to go.

On Monday, following the release of a damning report from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) into senior pay and governance at Bath, the campus trade unions called for Breakwell and chair of council, Thomas Sheppard, to resign.

At a lunchtime staff meeting yesterday hundreds of staff voted to join students in protests outside the next university council meeting on Thursday (30 November) if they did not step down.

Following that meeting, the university's senate met yesterday afternoon and discussed a motion of no-confidence in the vice-chancellor. Following a lengthy debate, senate members narrowly voted against the no-confidence motion by 19 votes to 16.

The union said the vice-chancellor's refusal to go would only harden resolve amongst students and staff ahead of the protests outside next Thursday's council meeting.

Dr Michael Carley, president of the Bath UCU branch said: 'The vice-chancellor and Thomas Sheppard are living in a different reality if they think they have the support of their staff. They may have been able to rely on senior management to narrowly survive the senate no confidence vote, but around 400 members of staff voted unanimously for them to go earlier yesterday.

'It has been a very difficult few months at the university and we are astonished that they are trying to cling on, especially after the damning Hefce report and after staff and students are so clearly demanding change. The events of the past couple of days will only harden our resolve to make our feelings very clear at Thursday's council meeting.

'It is time for a real change in how the institution is governed. UCU and the other unions want to play a full part in restoring the university's reputation as a centre of teaching and research excellence.

'Hefce has already indicated some of the changes that need to be made to the way the university runs, but we want to make the university a more open, democratic and transparent place for students, staff and the wider public. This cannot happen until those responsible for the university's current malaise leave.'

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